Search This Blog

Monday, October 24, 2011

Snap Shot - I Missed The Oiler Game But Heard We Sucked (Direct From Torts)

So Torts sounds pissed, eh? “We sucked from head to toe”. It sounds like we either played a really bad hockey game or helped film Rex Ryan’s new big budget sports-porno. Is that already an adult movie genre? Sporno? If it’s not, it should be. “Superhole XXXV”, “Conn Smythe Trophy Wife Volume Whatever”, the franchising options are endless. So long movie spoofs, spornos are where it’s at!

Anyways, so I didn’t see the Oiler game. I spent the weekend down at the ol’ alma matter honoring the late, great Henry Masters. My fraternal “big bro” passed away two years ago due to a tragic combination of inborn immune deficiencies and H1N1. He was the man. I’m sure you’ve been called “the man” before. I’m sorry. You’re not the man. Tuna was the man. Now that he’s gone, there will never be another “the man” again. He was it - a great friend and an incredible mentor whose words were always ripe with intellect. He was a sage amongst stoners. He was a king amongst kids. He will forever be missed by the men of Phi Tau. Rest in peace, Henry… and Mason too.

After Henry died, we raised money for a bench to be built on campus and dedicated in his memory. The ceremony for that dedication was on Saturday. Most of the older alumni left afterwards, but a few of us chose to stay and party it up with the kids at night. I could have driven home and been back before the game, but they were throwing a rave themed party and I look just young enough to not be instantly recognizable as an alumni creeper. Considering that the next real party I go to will probably be my wedding, I thought it best to “carpe de night” and get crunked with the kids.

Somewhere in the middle of wallflowering my way through said party, I found myself in the middle of a crowded, sweaty, day-glo covered living room watching NHL on the Fly for Ranger highlights. Here’s a brief summary of the images I was fed. Please keep in mind that I am now 4 hours deep into a college rave and cannot hear a goddamn peep the TV is making…

- Oilers offensive chance. Lundy saves.

- Oilers offensive chance. Lundy saves.

- Rangers offensive chance barely looks dangerous.

- Oilers offensive chance. Lundy saves.

- Oilers goal. Goal scorer is so young he would have been denied entry into the aforementioned party.

- Oilers offensive chance. Lundy saves.

- Oilers offensive chance. Lundy saves.

- Rangers blow long five on three power play and fail to score.

- Oilers goal. Don’t know who scores because I’m too busy accepting inevitable defeat.

- Shot of Lundy cramping up and asking off the ice. Accepting defeat turns into angry disbelief.

- Shot of Oilers celebrating around known drunk driver Nikolai Khabibulin. 2-0 Final.

Way to kill my buzz, blueshirts. Way to ruin an otherwise pleasant evening. I’m not too mad though; the pledges got the brunt of my frustration. I’ll let you make it up to me tonight when we bring down the Jets. Until next time…

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Night Lookback - NYR (3) - CGY (2) OT

So I don’t have a lot of time on this one. It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve stumbled across the kind of workload lull that allows for these mid-day musings. I’ll be away all weekend so I figured this might be a good time to get in a word or two about these past couple games… or should I say wins? I’ll say wins. It just sounds sexier.

So I already blogged about the Vancouver game Wednesday on Barstool, but those posts never feel comprehensive to me. What else was I trying to say there… but didn’t get a chance to mention… oh yes, I remember now – PENALTIES! Seriously Rangers, what the fuck? We cannot be giving our opponents six plus opportunities per game to score on the man advantage. That’s reckless, Russian roulette-type hockey. Every loss we’ve suffered so far has been the direct result of our discipline issues. Eliminate this mental weakness and our team will become a hell of a lot better because of it. Don’t just take my word for it, Ranger players. Try employing some common sense and see if it doesn’t help my sentiments sink in. Aside from that simple flaw, Tuesday was great. Four red-lighters in any period is always a fun for a Rangers fan. It’s such a rare and unexpected opportunity for us to be goal gluttons. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, regardless of how heavy your eyelids were likely becoming at the time.

Last night was another one for the insomniacs. It’s nice that we’re getting our PST games out of the way early, but this 1pm to 10pm swing is a hard schedule for us Ranger fans to follow. Whatever, I’m a slave to the game. I’d watch hockey at 4am if it asked me nicely. Russian Olympics, I hear you calling!

I spent the first period finishing up some editing for Puck My Life. Not only did this require me to resist killing myself out of newb frustration, it also required me to jerk my neck up and down at every announcement of a goal. BAM – we’re up! Gabby blasts in a one timer and we’ve finally scored a power play goal. BOOM – we’re not. Girardi’s whiff results in an Iginla tipper and we’re tied one-one. BAM – despite being down a man, Prusty snipes one in against his former club. BOOM – tied again after a successful Calgary PP. God damn whirlwind of a period, but not a bad start from a club seemingly incapable of scoring before the final frame.

I finally got done with my work just in time to watch two straight scoreless periods. The good news is that the blueshirts are playing great defensive hockey. The bad news is that they’re giving us ample time to figure that fact out. We’re on our heels for large chunks of the game (because of badly timed penalties) and it’s stressful to watch. Let’s go on the attack for fuck’s sake and make the other team’s fans worry about every small deflection. Cool?

And how about those Calgary fans booing Tim Erixon? You boo the kid all freaking game? Even into overtime?! I mean get over it! So the dude didn’t want to spend his 20’s living under a microscope in Alberta, big deal. You know how hard it is to compete against the lure of the New York Ranger? You get all the fame, all the money, all the celebrity access and privileged prestige, but none of the notoriety. How many New Yorkers do you think would recognize Tim Erixon while he’s out for a midtown lunch? One out of a million, if that. They get left alone. They live their lives as normal human beings until they want some special treatment. It’s hard to argue with that type of situation for a young Swedish kid just looking to follow in his (former Ranger) father’s footsteps. So you got passed up, Calgary. There will be other prospects. Don’t worry, plenty of fish in the sea, sweetheart…

So that’s really it, I think. I mean, everyone’s looking better. McD has been a revalation, Dubi is coming around, Cally is cruising and Hank is on fire. The score sheet is diverse and that’s a good thing for the Rangers. As long as Richie keeps putting up a point per game, Gabby keeps lighting the lamp, and the Broadway Hat keeps getting issued every game, I’ll be happy. I tried setting up a fake twitter account for the Broadway Hat but found out one already exists. Oh well, I snooze, I lose, thankfully unlike the Rangers. Let’s go get another two points from those kids out in Edmonton. What’s that expression about stealing candy from babies again? Until next time…

Let’s keep it rolling…
Edmonton on Saturday…
Candy from babies…

Monday, October 17, 2011

Snap Shot: Season So Far (3 Games In)

Um, is anyone out there satisfied with this garbage? Fans? Players? Coaches? Anyone enjoying themselves yet? Because I sure as hell am not. I have not yet found one second of this season to be truly enjoyable. Granted, we’re only three games in and that’s not much of a sample size, but I feel like a freaking Florida Panther fan here. What the hell has been going on? Where have we gone wrong? Let’s snap shot this shit…

For the Rangers, the regular season started two Fridays ago in Stockholm, Sweden. I requested to work from my company’s NYC office because I had planned a video shoot for later in the afternoon, so I bounced out of work early to watch the game at my friend Jean’s place. Now Jean (pronounced John because he’s rightfully embarrassed of his own French heritage) hates hockey. He’s the only one of my friends who can’t stand sports in general, but he tolerates our love of the game by snidely commenting and actively rooting against our favorite teams. We were joined for the game by my friends Rob, Brian and Dave, who are all Devils fans volunteering their services for my video project. Instead of enjoying the Rangers’ season opener, I spent the full three hours battling their bullshit as our blueshirts underperformed and lost to the Kings in overtime.

Cally’s ripper from the goal line and Gabby’s first of the year should have been enough for the win, but former Flyer Mike Richards had to score late in the third and fuck those plans all up. Once we took that overtime penalty and the winner went in, I remembered that special sinking feeling that comes after a Ranger loss; waiting all day for the puck drop, riding the emotional roller-coaster of the full game only to lose and walk away empty handed. Consolation point aside, I was bummed. Oh well, I thought, we’ll wait for Saturday afternoon.

God damn Ducks… This game literally put me to sleep. The Rangers were so mind-numbingly boring and didn't looked capable of pushing their way through a paper banner. Brad Richards’ first goal was a nice little treat, but too little too late in my opinion; we can’t be opening the scoring half way through the third. Shootouts shouldn’t be our only way of picking up the crucial second point – Saturday showed that. We usually bank on Hank to win us the breakaway competition, but he couldn’t pull this one off in front of his home country fans. Oh well, two points from two games in Europe isn’t all that bad, especially after country hopping the whole continent during preseason. We were given a football week to relax (and watch other Atlantic division teams tear up the league). Next up, the Islanders. I was ready for a win.

This past Friday was my birthday. Quarter century down, crisis impending. The obligatory parental dinner was postponed from Friday to Saturday due to the fact that I was once again in the city shooting scenes for Puck My Life’s pilot episode. Although I was concerned about the conflict, my Mom assured me that we’d get a table near the bar and would watch the game throughout dinner. Wrong. Three hours spent drinking wine and eating steak was marred by the fact that I was missing a Rangers game. Fine, whatever, I was given an iPad for my present so I could handle the slight delay. Rangers in 60 would provide a nicely concise review for my slightly drunken self once I got home...

10:30 rolls around and I switch the TV over to MSG. OH NO, I FLIPPED TOO SOON! I saw a split second clip of the Capuano’s press conference before desperately flipping back to Comedy Central. “Shit, they lost”, I told my fiancĂ©, “they don’t put the post-game focus on the loser. I know they lost." I flipped back to MSG again only to see another split second clip of Tavares with the puck. I was sure right then and incessantly lamented what I already knew to be another Ranger loss until my fiancĂ© could no longer stand it. She looked up the score and confirmed my correctness. Damnit, blueshirts.

So we’re essentially 0-3 with a couple consolation points. How, you ask, did this happen to our hyped up Rangers? PENALTIES! LOTS AND LOTS OF UNNECESSARY BS PENALTIES! Even my hockey hating French friend Jean can recognize how hard it is to win a game when you’re constantly killing penalties. Sure, we’ve been the victims of some dinky calls, but that’s no excuse to play undisciplined, sloppy hockey. Get your fucking shit together, boys. Stay out of the box and we’ll all be better off for it. This was a problem before the regular season even started so now we’re officially into beating-dead-horses territory. Torts must be beside himself. He’s already gotten hands-on with his coaching (evidenced by the sending down of Zuccarello and the calling up of Bell and Newbury) so let's all prepare ourselves for a season-long game of line roulette. Hey Torts, how’s Christensucks doing out there by the way? Is he injecting the team with much needed life yet? Killing it in the shootouts? Yeah, thought so...

So panic may be in the Ranger nation air, but we’re certainly not in any real danger. Our season is starting slowly and almost entirely on the road, so we’ve got to expect some rust in these early games. The key to everything, and I’ve said this since the beginning of last year, is the winning streak. We couldn’t even tie four together last year, and it showed in the stress of fighting for seventh and eighth. If we string some wins together, say four or five for every loss we suffer, then we’ll be golden come March. So go out west and take three out of four. Come back home, get your legs settled and start making some noise. Come on, Rangers, we need you here. Without your wins, there’s really not much of a difference between me and the Unibomber.

Until next time, I leave you with one of my PATENTED, ahem, haikus.

Katy Baker blows.
Grantland - home of the sports snob.
Stop ripping me off.

*I’d honestly be honored if KatyBakes actually read this site enough to consciously rip me off. She’s the established and I’m the underground. She’s Grantland/Goldman Sachs/Deadspin/ESPN and I’m Barstool/Basement/Unknown/Unpaid. I’m sure John Stewart would be honored to know that Sarah Palin was a regular Daily Show viewer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Preseason Wrap Up: Frolunda/Slovan/Zug and The End of Sean Avery

Holy hell, what a week! I thought I could coast through the rest of the preseason but this team just refuses to stop making headline news. Between the three televised games in the Europe, the cuts and the waived players, our New York Rangers are staying busy. As excited as I am to look ahead to Friday, let’s take a minute and wrap up the Rangers’ preseason action.

Last Friday’s game against Swedish club Frolunda was essentially Henrik Lundqvist celebration night. The pregame ceremonies, the extended ovations, the alternate captain’s A on Lundy’s chest, it all felt more like a spectacle than an actual game. The home team’s tenacity didn’t help that cause either. Frolunda looked weak and unwilling to battle physically. A Ranger victory felt like pure formality, even when the teams were tied at one at the end of the first. Goals from Kris Newbury, MDZ, Christensucks and Rupper put the game out of the reach for the Swedes, who were led by Henrik’s twin brother Joe-El “Don’t Call Me Joel” Lundqvist. Zuccarello had a hell of a game and continued to impress with two great assists, but many point to the larger ice surfaces as the reason he seems so at home out there. Too many penalties was once again a problem. This team needs to stay disciplined if they want to avoid falling behind in games. Even these European power play units are making us look like high schoolers down a man. Regardless, it was Henrik’s night. No one wanted to ruin the homecoming, including the Frolunda players.

Sunday afternoon saw the Rangers in Slovakia battling HC Slovan. If the Frolunda game was a feel-good affair with a party atmosphere, this game felt like a funeral. Gaborik’s homecoming brought back recent memories of Pavol Demitra’s death, and the Slovakian audience seemed subdued because of it. The MSG feed kept showing a giant portrait of Pavol with a #38 R.I.P. written underneath it. The travel was finally starting to take its toll on the Rangers who came out looking flat and took a ton of penalties. Slovan capitalized on one odd man opportunity and grabbed a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission. The Rags came out flying in the second and put in 2 straight goals on a 5-on-3 man advantage. MZA’s tally was completely the work of Brad Richards; just watching what he does on the PP, even without the puck, makes you understand how a true quarterback runs the show. Boyle’s goal was also on the power play and showcased the big boy’s improving hands. He made no mistake flipping a Dan Girardi pass into the top shelf of Slovan’s net. Anisimov scored the third goal after a brilliant shorthanded forecheck from, who else, Brandon Prust. Prusty bowled over the Slovan goalie and found Artie in the slot for an easy open netter. McDonagh finished off the scoring with a slick wrister in the third and the Rangers left Slovakia with a 4-1 win.

And when I say they left Slovakia, I mean they literally left as soon as the game was done. Gabbaslab wasn’t given much of a chance to chill with his attending friends and family and he sounded a little bummed because of it. Regardless, the Rangers had a game in Switzerland the next day so it was on to the land of ski slopes and war time neutrality. The contest against EV Zug was the last of the preseason, but it was also the most exciting to watch. The crowd was absolutely out of control. A little over seven thousand turned this hockey game into a full on futbol match. Drums, singing, chanting, groans, moans and excited cheers didn’t stop for the full sixty minutes. The first period was insane. Biron let in three in the first, including one absolute stinker that trickled through his glove and into the net. The Rangers tied things up after scoring two goals in the final two minutes of the period. The Zuggernauts scored two quick goals in both the second and the third to bring the game fully out of Ranger reach. Regardless of the score and how flat the Rangers looked, it was one hell of a hockey game. EV Zug played offensive straight up and down. Their passing was north/south and they went hard to the net for second opportunities. At least 3 of the game’s goals were pure highlight reel material. 8-4 was the final, the first loss for the Rangers in Europe. It’s hard to get hung up on this one when the real stuff is only days away. Bring on the regular season, baby!

But wait! Before Friday rolls around we’ve got some serious news to deal with. Sean Avery is no longer a New York Ranger. OK, OK, so he’s cleared waivers and is now subject to a Hartford demotion, but we all know it won’t go that far. Sean is not a minor leaguer. He’s a New York based restaurant baron with a passion for fashion and the big city lights. Asking him to go to Hartford would be like asking Monet to paint lilies in Iceland. Ain’t gonna happen. Europe is a possible option, according to his agent, so we’ll see where he winds up in the long run. This decision from the Rangers front office is a polarizing one, probably the first issue in a while where not everyone sees eye to eye. Let’s breakdown the booting of Sean Avery, shall we?

The number one reason for this move is the cap situation. I’m a writer; I hate math. Cap crunching and waiver numbers make my head hurt, so I look at it as simply as possible. Avery’s contract costs more than Christensen’s, so ditching the Vogue Rogue gives the team more space to sign another defenseman. It’s pretty black and white when you only look at the numbers, but I just don’t feel satisfied with that simple dollars and cents explanation. Torts said that EC gives him more options (power play and shootout specifically) and so he’s more valuable to the team’s overall goal. Fine, whatever, I can accept Avery’s gap in top six skill. But in reality, these two underachievers were battling for the 13th forward spot - the healthy scratch position. Who the fuck cares if your press box pony boy can score in the shootout, the dude doesn’t dress! Sure, he’ll be there to jump in for an injured top six forward but is Erik Christensen really the kind of kid who can sit for ten games and then come out roaring? Does he have the mental maturity to understand that every time he touches the ice he should be injecting fresh life into a tired squad? Can he be a catalyst for energy and excitement? I don’t freaking think so.

You need a 13th forward who can understand his role. He needs to sit, wait and work hard until his team needs the spark. Maybe we lost a forward for a week or two, maybe we just look flat for five straight games, but we need someone to hop into the lineup and give it some life. That’s Sean Avery! He’s a veteran guy who would have done anything to help his Rangers. He loves men’s suits, so sitting in the press box modeling new Kenneth Cole threads would not have bothered him. He is a pure energy player. He’s exactly the kind of weapon you want in your not-always-on-the-ice arsenal. I just don’t get it. Judging by the spot they were fighting for, I just don’t understand the logic. How is he battling for the final roster spot and then getting healthy scratched? How is he supposed to prove himself to Torts, who we know has always hated him? Just doesn’t compute. Oh well. I guess that’s why I’m not GM of the Rangers… yet…

So long Sean. I hope you find success in whatever it is that you do, whether it’s hockey, fashion or food. Between the goofy tinted glasses, the allegations of racist remarks and the arrest in LA, you never let it get boring. You single-handedly legalized gay marriage in New York. You pissed off Marty Broduer like no one else ever could, and for that, we will always consider your career as a Ranger a successful one. Thanks for the memories and come back soon. We’ll still chant your name like you never got waived.